County Commissioners Share Concerns Over Housing Inmates

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COLUMBIA - County Commissioners from all around Missouri came together Wednesday afternoon for the County Commissioners Association of Missouri (CCAM)'s yearly statewide training session. 

"Mostly it's an exchange of ideas to help better each and every county in every way we can control," Callaway County Commissioner Doc Kritzer said.

One of the main issues the group discussed was housing inmates.

"One of our most significant issues is prisoner per diem reimbursement," Kritzer said.

As it stands right now, Kritzer said county jails must house state offenders, and only once these offenders are convicted and go to the Department of Corrections, then the state will pick up the tab.

According to Kritzer, the Legislature is paying counties $19.58 per day for each offender, when it costs the counties $40.00 per day.

CCAM Executive Director Dick Burke said the issue needs to be brought to the table.

"Unfunded mandates, especially with housing prisoners, is a huge issue this year," Burke said. "This has put a strain on many of the county budgets."

Beyond specific issues, Kritzer said CCAM must be ready to respond to legislative actions.

"We also play defense," Kritzer said. "What is it we don't want them to change that's going to give us more unfunded mandates which causes the counties to spend more money?"

Of the 114 Missouri county governments, 110 are a part of the association. There are 330 commissioners attending the training this week. Each county has a presiding commissioner and two associate commissioners.

All counties are mandated by state law to attend the full 20 hours of training or $2,000 will be taken out of their salaries.

This week's event was the first time the session was in Columbia. Commissioners said they chose Columbia because of its location.

"We've talked about moving for several years," Kritzer said. "Where we were staying in Jeff City couldn't accommodate all of us. The venue here in Columbia is centric to the state and easily accessible for most."

Counties will have breakout sessions during the three day session, allowing counties to have more intricate discussions.

Kritzer said the association hopes to keep the training in Columbia long-term. Sessions run through Friday.